The Exaltation of the Cross 2014

If you look back on this blog, you will find I have written about this feast every year; and although I have not always taken the same theme or considered the same aspect of the feast, every year I have found myself moved by the thought that the Cross, and all that Christ endured on it, is not only a sign of God’s love for us, it is also, in its own way, God’s apology to us for all that we suffer in our turn. On the Cross the Creator bowed his head, so to say, before his creation. That is a shocking thought — rightly so — but perhaps it helps to make sense of what otherwise is cruelly meaningless.

The news that David Haines, a British aid worker, has been beheaded by an IS extremist is, at one level, simply one more personal tragedy to add to the millions the world has already suffered. Inevitably, we ask why. How can a loving God possibly allow such things to happen? Then we turn to the Cross and realise that Christ himself asked the same question, even as he gave the answer. That paradox lies at the heart of this feast as it lies at the heart of human history: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you; for by your Cross you have redeemed the world.

Suggestions for further reading from this blog (link in blue)
Exaltation of the Cross 2011
Exaltation of the Cross 2013

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14 thoughts on “The Exaltation of the Cross 2014”

  1. A sort of darkness covers my mind as I think of the cruel murder of David Haines ,but it comforts me to know that Christ , on the cross, identifies with David in his suffering: There is a mysterious fellowship in the mingling of their blood at the hands of cruel men.
    The cross brings a message of hope and love that transcends all suffering.
    I join with you in praying for David’s family.

  2. The Cross. Today is the day to think about The Cross. This is place where the creator was butchered by His creation.

    For many years I preached that no one could be truly Christian without having been to the foot of the Cross. Unless you have been there in body mind and spirit and gazed upon the cross and Jesus and contemplated and felt and wept at our own part in this awful event then you have failed to understand the essential essence of not only Christianity but also the nature of the divine.

    That angry word, that thought, that deed of mine is nailing Him there, I am personally guilty of killing God.

    The fact that He loved me enough to forgive me and call me brother and His Father to call me His son and His Mother embrace new as her own and that all this was done for me is the defining moment of my brief life.

    Through tears of pain and regret I am forgiven and made new and am loved.

    The Cross is Love.

    Defined.

  3. I feel sorry for those congregations who were told year after year that they were guilty of crucifying Christ, when I suspect that many of them were devoted and hard working Christians with enough guilt in watching families struggle to grow in a hard, capitalist world. I do not think that we are guilty of killing God. We do not inherit the errors of our forefathers. We are beholden unto God at the moment of birth, but I think it is abhorrent to suggest babies, children and adults are automatically guilty of murder.

      • I think I may have been misunderstood.
        Christ died for our sins. The sin all of us committed through all time until the end if the world. Is this not the case? Therefore speaking theologically we are all guilty of of crucifying Jesus since he had to die for our sins and in order that we might be set free.
        Jesus is God. In the poetic sense therefore we attempted to kill God.

        Am I so wrong here?

        • I see what you mean, I think, but I’d say the emphasis of Catholic theology as articulated by the Fathers is not on guilt or participation in the crucifixion of Christ but on our participation in what the crucifixion has achieved for us in putting us right with God and opening the way of salvation to us. We do find movements in the Church that take a more severe view of human sinfulness, eg Jansenism, but these have always been seen as fundamentally unorthodox, haven’t they?

          • What you say is true but I would hold that until a person has really been at the foot of the cross they cannot experience the reality and joy of the resurrection and the joy of the Holy Spirit and our celebration of life as given fully to us by the grace of a God. Or put another way unless we have felt and walked through the stations of the cross and wept how can we know the joy that follows?

            Enough Stuart!!!!!

  4. In reference to my post I would ask you to consider the words of the Catechism

    All sinners were the authors of Christ’s Passion

    598 In her Magisterial teaching of the faith and in the witness of her saints, the Church has never forgotten that “sinners were the authors and the ministers of all the sufferings that the divine Redeemer endured.”389 Taking into account the fact that our sins affect Christ himself,390 the Church does not hesitate to impute to Christians the gravest responsibility for the torments inflicted upon Jesus, a responsibility with which they have all too often burdened the Jews alone:

    We must regard as guilty all those who continue to relapse into their sins. Since our sins made the Lord Christ suffer the torment of the cross, those who plunge themselves into disorders and crimes crucify the Son of God anew in their hearts (for he is in them) and hold him up to contempt. And it can be seen that our crime in this case is greater in us than in the Jews. As for them, according to the witness of the Apostle, “None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” We, however, profess to know him. And when we deny him by our deeds, we in some way seem to lay violent hands on him.391
    Nor did demons crucify him; it is you who have crucified him and crucify him still, when you delight in your vices and sins.392
    613 Christ’s death is both the Paschal sacrifice that accomplishes the definitive redemption of men, through “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”,439 and the sacrifice of the New Covenant, which restores man to communion with God by reconciling him to God through the “blood of the covenant, which was poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”.440

    614 This sacrifice of Christ is unique; it completes and surpasses all other sacrifices.441 First, it is a gift from God the Father himself, for the Father handed his Son over to sinners in order to reconcile us with himself. At the same time it is the offering of the Son of God made man, who in freedom and love offered his life to his Father through the Holy Spirit in reparation for our disobedience.442

    Jesus substitutes his obedience for our disobedience

    615 “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”443 By his obedience unto death, Jesus accomplished the substitution of the suffering Servant, who “makes himself an offering for sin”, when “he bore the sin of many”, and who “shall make many to be accounted righteous”, for “he shall bear their iniquities”.444 Jesus atoned for our faults and made satisfaction for our sins to the Father.445

    Jesus consummates his sacrifice on the cross

    616 It is love “to the end”446 that confers on Christ’s sacrifice its value as redemption and reparation, as atonement and satisfaction. He knew and loved us all when he offered his life.447 Now “the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.”448 No man, not even the holiest, was ever able to take on himself the sins of all men and offer himself as a sacrifice for all. The existence in Christ of the divine person of the Son, who at once surpasses and embraces all human persons, and constitutes himself as the Head of all mankind, makes possible his redemptive sacrifice for all.

    617 The Council of Trent emphasizes the unique character of Christ’s sacrifice as “the source of eternal salvation”449 and teaches that “his most holy Passion on the wood of the cross merited justification for us.”450 And the Church venerates his cross as she sings: “Hail, O Cross, our only hope.”451

    (Sorry for the length but I fail to see how anything I wrote contradicts this)

      • I don’t disagree. It was only a comment not a thesis. Of course the emphasis is on what was achieved in the great act of redemption, my point obviously badly made, was that we can’t fully appreciate it until we have understood the magnitude of the crucifixion and our own responsibility in that act in a real rather than an abstract way. It was just my own reaction to the day , a memory sparked , a personal response to the immense love show to us by a God.

  5. Thank you for the reference, which I will look at.

    I had been referring specifically to the comment by Stuart Rogerson in which he states, “…I am personally guilty of killing God…” which I presumed, perhaps wrongly, he related to his congregations when preaching.

  6. I understand the theological rationale as theory but I cannot see how we can affirm that we are guilty of killing God, even on theological grounds.
    I accept that every person is capable of committing any crime/sin but having capacity should not be taken as each person being vicariously liable for the worst atrocities carried out by a few, which I understand the theology of saying we all participated in the killing of God to mean.
    I think that theology places an unrealistic and unfair burden on humanity and that God’s grace throught the gift of forgiveness and absolution for all addresses all sin, which matches the variant weaknesses of every human being.

    I am sorry if I sound obtuse; I don’t intend to be. I am fascinated by the theologocal ramificiations of saying that we are all culpable for God being on the cross. I just don’t understand the theology of it.

    I thank you both for an edifying exchange.

  7. I’m going to make two general comments— I hope without giving offence. Theology is meant to illuminate our understanding, increase our love and devotion, not cramp us or weigh us down. It will challenge us, certainly, but that is a very different thing from placing burdens on us. I think that talking about guilt is rather tricky. It can easily end up making us scrupulous or assuming a vicarious personal responsibility we don’t have (see what the Catechism says about original sin in the passage I referenced). It turns us inwards when we need to look beyond ourselves towards Christ; and that is my main problem with some of the ideas expressed here. Not everyone comes to God in the same way. Ruth Burrows once made a very simple but illuminating comment about contemplative prayer. She said that there are ‘lights on’ people and ‘lights off’ people. Both seek and experience the same God, but in radically different ways. I think that’s true, and not only of prayer.

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